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Threat of Drug-Resistant Infections Worries WHO

AdvertisementThe World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed worry over the declining rate of private investment and lack of innovation in the development of new antibiotics which it says are undermining effort to combat drug-resistant infections. “Never has the threat of antimicrobial resistance been more immediate and the need for solutions more urgent,” says Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO in a recent press release posted on the agency’s website.

“Numerous initiatives are underway to reduce resistance, but we also need countries and the pharmaceutical industry to step up and contribute with sustainable funding and innovative new medicines,” he said. Two reports – Antibacterial agents in clinical development – an analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline and its companion publication, Antibacterial agents in preclinical development) identify a weak pipeline
for antibiotic agents.

WHO in 2017 published the priority pathogens list, 12 classes of bacteria plus tuberculosis that are posing increasing risk to human health because they are resistant to most existing treatments. The list was developed by a WHOled group of independent experts to encourage the medical research community to develop innovative treatments for these resistant bacteria. “It’s important to focus public and private investment on the development of treatments that are effective against the highly resistant bacteria because we are running out of options,” says Hanan Balkhy, WHO Assistant Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance.

“And we need to ensure that once we have these new treatments, they will be available to all who need them,” she said. The WHO says new treatments alone will not be sufficient to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance. The 60 products in development (50 antibiotics and 10 biologics) bring little benefit over existing treatments and very few targets the most critical resistant bacteria (Gram-negative
bacteria).

By Chigbu Nwaobia

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